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‘Jon & Kate’ plus ate — thanks to the Amish

After a tumultuous year, the show is settling into a formula. Jon episodes play like Eddie Murphy farce; Kate episodes play like Virginia Woolfian melodrama.
/ Source: Entertainment Weekly

If you tune out the ongoing Gosselin tabloid spectacle, the show itself has become eerily quiet. ''It feels normal to be here myself,'' Kate said last night, ''without Jon.'' After a tumultuous year, the show is settling into a formula. Jon episodes play like Eddie Murphy farce; Kate episodes play like Virginia Woolfian melodrama.

Call me crazy, but Kate came off pretty well in Monday night's episode, if only because Jon was interviewing babysitters on a personal journey of self-discovery. She herded the kids into the van for a trip to Henry's Garden. In the old days, ''I stopped by Henry's at least once or twice a day.'' Henry even became the friendly clean-your-plate boogeyman at the Gosselin dinner table: ''This is Henry's! He grew it! He will be upset if you don't finish!''

Minor plot twist! Henry and his people are ''the first Amish family I have known on a personal level,'' said Kate, sounding like a UN goodwill ambassador. ''Amish have issues with pictures, filming, being on camera.'' Weirdos!

Henry allowed the cameras, as long as his face wasn't shown. Turns out he has a new baby girl, totaling seven children. Kate: ''Keep going. You're one behind.'' Their interaction made me yearn for an "18 Kids and Counting" crossover. Then Michelle Duggar could be all like, ''You have eight kids? Oh, that's soooooo hard. You gonna cry about it, cryface?'' Because Michelle Duggar talks exactly like a schoolyard bully, little known fact.

(Study Question #1: Who has it harder: a seven-children Amish family, or an eight-children divorced family with all the comforts of modernity but also millions of people watching their every move?)

Kate waxed poetic about Henry's people. ''They don't have a TV. They have no idea who we are. They just know me as Kate.'' (Narcissistic, self-loathing, or just the truth?) On the way home, the gang stopped at an awesome wooden fort playground. The boys went insane. The girls were ready to leave immediately. Girls never understand the wooden fort playground. Weirdos!

Back home, the kids shucked corn. (Kate: ''It's a weird word. Shuck, shuck, shuck.'') Mady taunted Aaden with corn husks. ''She's playing the corn game!'' He threw some husks right back at her. Mady stormed off. Heck yes, Aaden, that's how you play the corn game!

In the kitchen, Mady and Cara helped Kate. ''They see that I'm struggling, and they just wanna help me,'' said Kate. Message to JG: The powerful Big Sister lobby has semi-officially declared in favor of Mom. Get your head in the game, dude!

Friction arose when the kids broke out the instrument box. Cara wanted to keep the best for herself: ''I have to use certain instruments for my performance!'' Mady was trying to organize a ''Christmas chorus'' and fought back: ''Anyone can play with these instruments if they want.'' (Totalitarianism vs. socialism, the never ending battle continues!)

(Study Question #2: Would you rather see a performance by Mady's Christmas chorus, or by Cara's non-denominational chorus? Follow-up: who taught them the word ''chorus''?)

Fortunately, dinner started before any fights broke out. ''Jesus made it, Henry growed it, Mommy cooked it, and we ate it,'' said Collin, repeating an old family chant from better days. Mady had a hard time eating corn with braces. For reals, how has Science not figured that out yet?

What a long day! We achieved all our goals, right kids? Cara: ''We forgot the goal to fix Cara's foot.'' Seems she twisted her ankle during a bit of running-up-the-stairs tomfoolery with her sisters. While the babysitter took Cara to the doctor, Kate had Family Game night with the kids. "Gator Golf" is roughly as impossible as Real Golf. "Pictureka" is basically "Where's Waldo" with a time limit. Mady, capping a twin-centric episode, had a minor "Pictureka" freakout: ''I know where it is! I just saw it! Screech!''

Bad news from the doctor: Cara's metatarsal was swollen. It was late in the evening, but Kate made the drive to a specialist: ''Anything I can do to make tomorrow shorter.'' Do pediatricians actually schedule last-minute evening appointments, or did the Gosselins get special treatment?? (Study Question #3: Is it pointless for me to interpret this show as anything but as some people claim?)

The X-rays showed that everything was fine and dandy. ''We don't have time for a cast, do we, Cara?'' Kate joked. Ha ha?

Cara's Quote of the Night: ''Mady, you've got a piece of corn above your eye and under your eyebrow.''